Whilst the weather on the first day of the O’Neill Cold Water Classic Canada turned bleak and grey, the surf conditions - as well as the surfing on display in Tofino - were anything but.
In a part of the world more famous for its snow than its surf, the waves came good with a solid two meter swell and offshore winds at Cox Bay, Tofino, on the west coast of Vancouver Island.
It was local surfer Peter Devries who took centre stage with a spectacular aerial display on his local beach break.
“I haven’t done a contest in ages,” said Peter. “It’s like I was just freesurfing out there.” With the highest score of the day – a 9.5 from an air reverse - it was quite some impressive freesurfing from Peter. “I guess the judges like airs,” he said. Feeling no pressure in front of his home crowd, Peter was focused on the excitement of being part of the 6 Star ASP WQS competition – the first professional surf event to be held in Canada.
“People have been talking about this area for years,” he said. “It’s great O’Neill actually came here, especially as part of the Cold Water Classic Series, which is a great thing. I would love to compete in more events on the series next year.” Sep Bruhwiler - the first local Canadian surfer to get in the water at the O’Neill Cold Water Classic Canada – also made it through to the round of 96 with some intense surfing in the dying seconds of his heat.
In the last ten minutes I was struggling to get a wave and started panicking a bit,” he said. “I have been feeling good about my surfing so it was frustrating to think I wasn’t going to make it.”
“In the end I got a smaller one on the inside. It wasn’t a great wave, but I surfed it well enough to get through so I was stoked,” he said.
Although the cold conditions may be familiar to the local surfers, there was little advantage in having local knowledge to play on at the beach break at Cox Bay. “It’s a shifty break. It changes so much,” said Sep. “You can’t really have local knowledge here because it’s changing all the time. There is no perfect spot.”
Having grown up on Chesterman beach here in Tofino, Sep is all too familiar with the wilds of the landscape, but it is the food that he says is the best thing about the area. “The seafood here is incredible. It’s so fresh. You can get crab or whatever and cook it up fresh. I grew up with that. It’s the most special thing to me about this place. And I guess the scenery and wildlife is all part of that experience.”
As is expected in this part of the world – and with the Cold Water Classic Series in general - conditions look to storm up tomorrow with a bigger swell and strong winds.
The next call will be made at 8am on Monday October 26.